From the FOREST e-mail list

Impacts of Climate Change

Gerry Hawkes (
Thu, 19 Feb 1998 21:11:47 -0500

Karl -

After preparing detailed, long range management plans and maps for private
forestland owners in Vermont starting in the early 1970's, I found that by
the mid-1980's the long range projections I was making for forest health
were so bleak that I could no longer continue to practice forestry. My
concerns were and still are the insidious weakening effects of airborne
pollutants on the health of the forests.

I have considered the effects of toxic pollution to be a greater and more
immediate threat than climatic change primarily because the computer models
and the experts seemed to be projecting the severe weather events and
changes associated with global climate change to begin around the year 2050,
if we did not reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Now it appears that the
severe weather events and climatic changes may be arriving globally much
earlier than expected and are already inflicting very serious damage on the
world's forest resources. This comes at a time when I see the forests, at
least in the Eastern U.S., already in stressed condition from the cumulative
effects of years of air pollution.

Karl, my retirement and the inheritance I hoped to leave my children was in
our land and trees. Over the past 3 years I have been forced to salvage
over half the current timber value due to dieback and decline and now an ice
storm. From the symptoms I see, the prognosis for the remaining trees (and
for us) is not good.

As foresters we will be increasingly frustrated and victimized by pollution
and global warming. No amount of good planning and good management will
stop the destruction. Although our window of opportunity is closing fast,
maybe we can make a difference in slowing global climate change and
pollution by speaking up and telling the world how serious the damage to the
forests really is.

- Gerry Hawkes
(former) Forest Management & Utilization Consultant (now working on small
solutions to reduce pollution)
Woodstock, Vermont

-----Original Message-----
From: Karl Davies <>
To: Multiple recipients of list FOREST <FOREST@LISTSERV.FUNET.FI>
Date: Thursday, February 19, 1998 6:57 PM
Subject: Re: Impacts of Climate Change

Re: Impacts of Climate Change

I had regrets soon after having posted my previous message about
the IPCC summary reports on Tuesday. I was afraid my frayed
nerves were showing. Forest management has become increasingly
frustrating this year. It's been going in that direction for
several years. Most of the problems are weather-related.

1) I have over 2MMbf marked and ready to sell from last fall, but
the ground conditions are too soft and wet. Temperatures have
been 13F above normal so far this winter. If I don't sell the
timber, I don't get paid. My clients are getting anxious about
when and how much income they will get from these sales.

2) Market prices are down anyway because of all the extra salvage
timber that's being cut Up North after the big ice storm, and
because lumber sales to East Asia dropped way off (I realize this
is not a weather-related problem).

3) My retirement investments are in timber and timberland. I see
what happened Up North in early January and I wonder what value,
if any, my timber will have in 20 years.

4) I have inventories done and management plans to write from
these inventories, but don't know what to write. I have one plan
that I drafted last fall before all the El Nino weather hit us.
It seems all wrong, but I don't know what's right either.

So on Tuesday I was trying to write something about anticipated
weather and market conditions for my timber sale and management
plan clients, and I came across the IPCC website and read their
one page summary on forest impacts. There was nothing in it
about the weather-related problems I'm facing. I guess something

Wednesday I found the whole report at the UMass library. There
was more than the summaries suggested, but it was all
ecophysiological responses and 50 year shifts in species
distributions based on computer models. There was nothing about
the impacts of extreme weather events or extraordinary weather
patterns over the short term.

Admittedly, the report is three years old and the weather has
become much wetter and wilder in these three years. But didn't
the climate models predict this? Or is the weather changing much
faster than predicted? Or do I happen to be in a part of the
world (New England) where the effects of climate change are more

If the weather has turned chaotic, then all bets are off and I
can forget about trying to make sense of what's happening. On
the other hand, if the current weather patterns are predictable,
then it should be possible to plan once the patterns are better

It might also be possible to intervene to reduce the impacts if
the damages to forests and other resources can be reasonably
predicted, valued and publicized. Is it asking too much to
request this sort of information? I apologize for the tone of my
previous message and hope that some fruitful discussion can

Karl Davies, Consulting Forester
Northampton, MA




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